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A Waif

 My soul is like a poor caged bird to-night,
Beating its wings against the prison bars,
Longing to reach the outer world of light,
And, all untrammelled, soar among the stars.
Wild, mighty thoughts struggle within my soul For utterance.
Great waves of passion roll Through all my being.
As the lightnings play Through thunder clouds, so beams of blinding light Flash for a moment on my darkened brain - Quick, sudden, glaring beams, that fade wawy And leave me in a darker, deeper night.
Oh, poet sould! that struggle all in vain To live in peace and harmony with earth, It cannot be! They must endure the pain Of conscience and unacknoeledged worth, Moving and dwelling with the common herd, Whose highest thought has never strayed as far, Or never strayed beyond the horizon's bar; Whose narrow hearts and souls are never stirred With keenest pleasures, or with sharpest pain; Who rise and eat and sleep, and rise again, Nor question why or wherefore.
Men whose minds Are never shaken by wild passion winds; Women whose broadest, deepeat realm of thought The bridal veil will cover.
Who see not God's mighty work lying undone to-day, - Work that a woman's hands can do as well, Oh, soul of mine; better to live alway In this tumultuous inward pain and strife, Doing the work that in thy reach doth fall, Weeping because thou canst not do it all; Oh, better, my soul, in this unrest to dwell, Than grovel as they grovel on through life.

Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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